Bisphenol A (BPA) is a plasticizer and an endocrine-disrupting chemical. It is present in a variety of products used daily including food containers, paper, and dental sealants and is now widely detected in human urine and blood. Exposure to BPA during development may affect brain organization and behavior, perhaps as a consequence of its actions as a steroid hormone agonist/antagonist and/or an epigenetic modifier. Here we show that BPA produces transgenerational alterations in genes and behavior. Female mice received phytoestrogen-free chow with or without BPA before mating and throughout gestation. Plasma levels of BPA in supplemented dams were in a range similar to those measured in humans. Juveniles in the first generation exposed to BPA in utero displayed fewer social interactions as compared with control mice, whereas in later generations (F(2) and F(4)), the effect of BPA was to increase these social interactions. Brains from embryos (embryonic d 18.5) exposed to BPA had lower gene transcript levels for several estrogen receptors, oxytocin, and vasopressin as compared with controls; decreased vasopressin mRNA persisted into the F(4) generation, at which time oxytocin was also reduced but only in males. Thus, exposure to a low dose of BPA, only during gestation, has immediate and long-lasting, transgenerational effects on mRNA in brain and social behaviors. Heritable effects of an endocrine-disrupting chemical have implications for complex neurological diseases and highlight the importance of considering gene-environment interactions in the etiology of complex disease.
Sources and more information
- Gestational exposure to bisphenol a produces transgenerational changes in behaviors and gene expression, Endocrinology. 2012 Aug;153(8):3828-38. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1195. PMID: 22707478 Epub 2012 Jun 15. Full text.
- BPA Exposure Effects May Last for Generations, Endocrine Society, press-release-archives/2012.